By Peter Wade

The jobs crisis in the U.S. is worsening as weekly unemployment claims reached a five-month high, according to new unemployment numbers released by the Department of Labor.

Almost 1.4 million people filed initial jobless claims for the week ending January 9th, which is many more than economists expected.

The number of continued jobless claims also exceeded economists’ expectations, reaching nearly 5.3 million compared to the expected 5 million.

As of the end of last month, there were still 9.8 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were before the pandemic.

The problem is getting worse. The economy lost a net 140,000 jobs in December, even after you adjust for seasonal trends. The losses hit hardest among women of color, who were more likely to get laid off in December than hired. Meanwhile, both white men and women made gains, CNN reports.

That is because women of color work disproportionately in the sectors of the economy that have been most affected by the pandemic — retail, hospitality, and education — and in roles that are not conducive to working from home. Many working mothers were also forced to exit the workforce to care for their families as schools and daycares remain closed.

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